Well, actually, I do speak German, but I hate it (If I dared, I'd write the hate bold in font size 40 and with four exclamation marks) when a website speaks to me in German. I mean, my language preferences are clear in Firefox, there's even only French and English so why a website should speak to me in German is beyond me. My Firefox language preferences

Well, I know why. I live in Germany. But as Stephanie Booth explains very well in her "Waiting for the Babel Fish" presentation, which I attended in Reboot a long time ago, there are some things that are very wrong in how the internet brings about multinlingualism.

And that starts (or ends?) with websites speaking to me in German. It is, for example, the case for MySpace.com, which bases the site's interface language on the IP address (ie. the geographical location of the user). But there is nothing worse than to go from a French blog or a French email to a page which speaks German without real reason. Not to mention that having Hano's page all in German when their music is a tribute to the French language is kind of... a heresy.

I can understand, and I can even accept, that ads altogether speak to me in German. Well, it's not like I'm gonna click on them or anything, but basing ads on the IP address is mostly a good call. Mostly, because many of these ads are for online stuff, which I would be much more receptive to in a language I am willing to read at the top of my head. German is too much work.

This said, it is actually quite interesting to note when it bothers me and when it doesn't. I hate it that sites give me a default German interface, but for some of the sites I use, my user preferences are set to give me a German interface (Xing for example). So what I really hate is not so much the German in itself, but the lack of rhyme or reason for a specific linguistic environment. And the rupture which comes with switching from a language I am not in the mood for (read: my brain is not ready for).

Google.ch in French For the record, on the contrary to what Stephanie says in her presentation, it seems Google speaks to me in French, with a very nice "Google Suisse" logo, which changes to "Google Switzerland" when I change my browser's preferences. Google's got it right.

Bottom line is, thereis still much work to be done to make sure that the internet really speaks to all.